Step 2. Stop waiting and blaming- service advisors and support staff, pay close attention. Your dealer, managers, and leaders may owe you the tools you need to be successful, but you owe them your dedication and loyalty to use those tools to the fullest. First, let’s look at the immediate areas you need to focus on- survey scores, customer retention, effective labor rate, customer paid repair order averages and total dollars sold. Do you know what the national, regional and district averages are for the brand you represent? Do you know what your numbers are in relationship to those? How do you stack up? Are you below average or above average? How far below or how far above? Do you know what the numbers are that the top 10% enjoy in these areas? Do you know what they do to get to and maintain these numbers? You are lucky because you live in the age of information. With the internet at your finger tips, you can have the answers to all of these questions within minutes. You can create the solutions that will put you in the top 10% within minutes. It is up to you to seek and find this information. It is up to you to create solutions to place you at the top. Your dealer, managers and leaders have put you in a position to make an income that will put you firmly in the top 25 to 30% of income earners in the country. An income that will deliver a life and lifestyle that many will envy. To squander your opportunity and not take advantage of it is lazy, ungrateful, and selfish. If you don’t want to work on being the best then step aside and make room for those who do. Your leaders gave you the opportunity. It is up to you- and only you- to prove that you deserve it. It is also your responsibility to fully learn and utilize each tool your leaders bring you. It is not your job to question why. It is your job to make it work. If your leader believes in it, you should believe in it too- or step aside.
Step 3. Stop doing things that don’t work. Three things that service departments repeatedly do that hold them back are as follows:
1. They have no training program, initial, ongoing or otherwise that clearly defines expectations.
2. They look to the wrong people for advice, factory training and product vendors.
3. They allow their managers to run the shop as they see fit with little or no guidance from above.
You must train, get advice from those who truly know and lead your managers. There is a reason that that you employ them and not the other way around. They need your leadership and need to be pushed and pointed in the right direction. Even if they push back, you need to assert your knowledge and get what you are paying for – to be the best you can be.
Step 4. Do not fear turnover. Embrace it. If you have employees that cannot or will not produce, cut them from the team. If you have employees that fight you at every turn when you try new things and try to implement change, let them go. Let’s assume one of your service advisors is the problem. Which is worse, temporarily taking in fewer vehicles for a few weeks until you find the right person, or keeping the wrong person, letting them handle 15 customers a day in a subpar manner, wrecking any chance to have the numbers you so desperately need and worse, costing you customers? You have to look at the facts: If you have four service advisors on your drive and one has a 2.5 customer paid repair order average, one has 2.3, one has 2.2 and one has 1.5, what do we know about your drive? It will do 2.5. We also know that whenever the advisor that carries the 1.5 average talks to a customer it is costing 1.0- that is 1.0 times 15 customers a day, times 5 days a week, times 4 weeks. That is 300 hours a month, 3600 hours a year that this person is costing you, not to mention the hit you are suffering with your survey scores and retention. When weak employees are let go, it sends a strong message to the rest of the staff. It sends the message that you are serious about results and that you are striving to be the best that you can be. Both are powerful messages. Just like a 2 vehicle a month salesperson never figures it out, neither will a 1.5 service advisor.
Step 5. Embrace accountability. This is the one step that keeps more service departments from maximum peak performance than any other. If you consider that everything in service starts from the simple retail transaction of a service advisor helping a customer who has a need, you can see how much sense accountability makes. When you consider further the actual base retail transaction between the advisor and your customer, it becomes even easier for you to insist on accountability. Everything in service starts with the simple retail transaction of an oil change. Everything above an oil change is an upsell. Either you can get the upsell or you cannot. Either you can wow the customer enough to get a great survey score or you cannot. Either you can treat the customer in such a way that you retain them or you cannot. You can show your staff that you are proud and want only the best for your employees, your customers and your business by searching out the most profitable and successful service departments and emulating them. Accountability will be part of the winning formula. In getting the trifecta of high sales, retention, and survey scores, you will need a manger that clearly understands the art of selling and customer service. One who can do what is required to get these numbers better then any employee under them can. You show them what you want to achieve, how you plan on achieving it and you hold them accountable to those processes and results. They in turn should hold each of their employees accountable. By proceeding in this way, your staff will be more successful and full of pride. Who doesn’t want to work on a winning team where the main mission is to be the best?
In the end, reinstating the solid values of hard work, pride, and self sufficiency start with you- the dealer. Once your staff sees you investing in all the tools that they need to be successful, they will respond in-kind. When they see that you are serious and committed, they will become serious and committed. When they see you striving to be the best by not fearing turnover and embracing accountability, they too will commit to being the best. You will create a work environment in which pride is valued- the type of pride that says: “The dealer has done his or her job. I will gladly commit to and successfully do mine.”